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The White Shadow: A Lost Hitchcock Film Or Not?

Posted on the 03 August 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
The White Shadow: A lost Hitchcock film or not?

Still from The White Shadow.

Alfred Hitchcock, the film director known for his subtle and thrilling investigations into the human psyche, would be pleased. We now have a further insight into the man who made the classic films The Birds and Psycho: the first three reels of The White Shadow, one of the first films he worked on, have surfaced in the vaults of the New Zealand Film Archive. Dating from 1923, Hitchcock fans had long lamented its loss, but thanks to the private collection of Jack Murtagh, a projectionist from Hastings, the reels were passed down through his grandson and ended their journey Down Under.

  • Good angel, bad angel. Hitchcock “cut his teeth” on The White Shadow, reported Paul Chapman on The Daily Telegraph. He was assistant director, as well as writing it, designing and editing. It’s been described as a “wild, atmospheric melodrama”, and stars Betty Compson as twin sisters, “one angelic and the other ‘without a soul.’” The film will be made available commercially in the US.

“This is one of the most significant developments in memory for scholars, critics, and admirers of Hitchcock’s extraordinary body of work,” David Sterritt, author of The Films of Alfred Hitchcock and chairman of the National Society of Film Critics

  • Taking the credit. “Holy Hitchcockian doubles, Batman!” said Altscreen.comWhile stressing that Hitchcock was not the film’s director, Hitchcock is not the film’s director, the site pointed out that Hitch was more than willing to take credit for it, and quoted from his famous interview with Francois Truffaut:
    [Truffaut:] Graham Cutts directed [Woman to Woman in 1923]. You did the adaptation and dialogue, and were assistant director as well?
    [Hitchcock:] More than that! My friend, the art director, was unable to work on the picture. I volunteered to serve as art director. So I did all of this and also helped on the production. My future wife, Alma Reville, was the editor of the picture as well as the script girl….Then I performed these various functions for other films. The second was The White Shadow.

  • Now, there really IS a missing Hitchcock film out there. Take it with a pinch of salt, said Silent London, as the film was actually directed by Graham Cutts. Sure, Hitchcock is interesting: but “we should also be happy to find out more about Cutts,” who in the 1920s was “ticket-office gold.” The White Shadow “looks like a fascinating find,” but “please don’t take the credit away from a name that has almost been forgotten and give it to someone who doesn’t deserve it.” Also, if you happen to have a copy of The Mountain Eagle, “that really is a lost Hitchcock silent – so please call the British Film Institute right away, and tell them I sent you.”

Hey! What’s that bird doing? Oh, nothing. You want more on film? Excellent!

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